Flickr photo by Sacheverelle Used With PermissionI've had a lot of fun, mocking maternity fashions of the past. Maybe it's because of this one time, when I was in Macy's in high school, and had to walk through the maternity section to get to the prom dresses.
I saw a pair of denim overalls covered with giant daisies – the kind of thing a mom might wear if she never, ever wanted her husband to look at her with lustful eyes again, or that a crazy person might wear if she wanted to be mistaken for a very tall toddler. I was traumatized. I blame this momentary horror for my failure to have a baby till I was past 40. Damn you all to hell, New Jersey Macy's!
Because the truth is, women of the past often looked damn adorable in their maternity wear!
Though it was rare for anyone to rise to the level of "Princess Grace swallowed a basketball!" Betty Draper, there was some cute maternity wear to be had in those days. A lot if it you had to make yourself, which gave you control over the fabric and pattern. There were a few clunkers, like this book, published in 1989 and written by a fashion model who of course could manage to look chic wearing Annie Hall's leftovers. (God, I want to get my hands on that book and scan in the pages. It's got to be a hoot!)
But my favorite way to get a look is not to look at fashion archives, but to page through Flickr to see awesome hidden gems, women looking perfectly round and adorable and fashion forward in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s (and 1960s, and 1960s -- so hard to choose!), and 1970s. Okay, so maybe they weren't always exactly fashion-forward. Fabulous, though. And seeing the different looks through the years, I'm inspired to mix up my wardrobe a little. I'm glad I have more choices than the crazy muumuus, but you know, when you're in the right mood, a crazy muumuu can really be a lot of fun.
Of course, buying vintage maternity fashions means haunting eBay or Etsy for months on end. Better to grab a sewing machine and make your own (or see if an Etsy seamstress specializing in vintage reproduction can do the job for you). Or just enjoy perusing, like I do, and feel the sisterhood of the time-traveling bumps.